There are NO SPOILERS for either director’s work in this article.
Hey everybody, been a while since I’ve written something. As I haven’t really watched too many shows this season, I haven’t been really focusing on the “Character Focus” section of the blog and while I MAY want to write something soon, I want to finish the show before I approach it. ANYWAY. This is about something else. Something I thought had been put to rest a few years ago, but something that apparently rears its head from time to time whenever Shinkai is back in the news. And of course, that is the comparison between Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai. It seems like with the success of your name, the comparisons are coming up yet again and I wanted to voice my opinion on the matter.
Now, I want to make this extremely clear early on into the article: I absolutely adore both Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai. Spirited Away is my favorite movie of all time and I have watched it more times than anything else, bar none, hands down. And Makoto Shinkai is my favorite director – I’ve written posts about his works, done some in depth studying on his process, and seen almost everything he’s ever made (excluding some video game openings). So this is coming from a place of respect to both of these creators. I do not want to disparage either of them. Both of their works are powerful and deserve to be held in high regard.
That’s exactly why I’m writing this article though. Because the comparisons between the two of them are bunk. Why do I think that? Well, let’s go over the things that separate them from each other. Hayao Miyazaki is a legend in the anime industry. He helped popularize anime in the west, he’s been equated to Walt Disney (in the regard that he’s produced Disney-like works, and, probably, that Disney has helped license his stuff), and his movies all have a unique magic to them that made them so popular in the first place. He has a place in anime’s history that won’t ever be matched and, frankly, DOESN’T NEED to be matched. He’s done quite a lot for anime and that should be appreciated.
Expanding a little bit on that, his views and ideas also define him. There are certainly the negative aspects, such as his views on where the anime industry is going, but moreso than that there are the aspects of his films that were almost glaringly obvious. Anti-war, environmentalism, crafting fantastical worlds and incredible characters based on his own experiences. These add to factors that make him wholly unique.
Then we have Shinkai. A man absolutely devoted to his work, taking years at a time to craft a hour and a half long film (or in some cases, a 45 minute film or shorter). He’s known for a lot of different things. Pulling at your heartstrings, bittersweet endings, teaching life lessons, and above all else, absolutely GORGEOUS art (oh and of course, the killer soundtracks that always seem to perfectly fit all of his films). Outrageous dedication is a feature of him too, having created Voices of a Distant Star entirely by himself (with the exception being the voice of the female character). Him and Comixwave make, undoubtedly, some of the most incredible art of probably any animation industry. And he does it with feature length films. It takes a while, but Shinkai is willing to put in that effort and that time.
While he did create Children Who Chase Lost Voices (which only spurred on the comparisons between himself and Miyazaki), he is much MORE well known for a few other films – 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Garden of Words, and, if the box office in Japan is any indication, your name will be one he is definitely known for as well. Of course, all those stories have one major thing in common – a boy and a girl and romance. Whether it goes good, bad, or neutral is another matter entirely and since this is a spoiler-free article (since many of you probably have not had the chance to see your name yet), I will not talk about the contents of any of the films. But those who have seen his works already know.
So what am I trying to say here? I’m trying to say that these two directors are incredibly unique and both have made incredible films. Hayao Miyazaki will never be forgotten for his films nor his contributions to the industry as a whole. Makoto Shinkai’s films should be hung in museums for their beauty and he still has so much to offer us in the remainder of his lifetime. To borrow an adage used by so many different anime, Hayao Miyazaki is Hayao Miyazaki. Makoto Shinkai is Makoto Shinkai. There’s a quote from Pablo Picasso that I think relates to this, at least somewhat:
“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
Instead of aiming for something that’s already been done, the true goal should be to become someone that the world will remember the name of. There are so many greats that have contributed to the industry for their own reasons and none of them should be defined by the success of another. I don’t know what Shinkai thinks about the claims (besides his usually humble nature of claiming that it’s simply not true), but instead of him being the next Hayao Miyazaki, he should become the only Makoto Shinkai.
Thanks for reading.